Tag Archives: Cistercian

Saint Robert of Molesme

St Robert of Molesme welcomes Bernard.jpgApril 17, 2011 marks the 900th anniversary of the
death of St. Robert of Molesme, which, this year, is Palm Sunday. This anniversary of death of Saint Robert coincides with the historic beginning of the Cistercians with Robert’s arrival with his group of monks first arrived at
Cîteaux on Palm Sunday (March 21, 1098). 
Along with Saints Alberic and Stephen, Saint Robert is one of the founders of Cîteaux.

The text of the Life of Saint Robert
is available here
You’ll find the rather lengthy article referred to at: Life of St.
Robert of Molesme.
A shorter version of Saint Robert’s life can be
found on Wikipedia.

James Martin reviews “Of Gods and Men”

The culture editor at America Magazine Jesuit Father James Martin, reviews the stunning movie “Of Gods and Men” on Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. His comments are worth hearing.

Here is a previous post on “Of Gods and Men” with a few links to other pages including Prior Christian de Cherge’s testament.

80 years of monastic profession: the witness of a lifetime

Permanent commitment is an awesome gesture. It is, however, becoming a thing of the past these days. I remember a few years ago
when my parents were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and one of my
mother’s clients said to her: “I can’t believe you’ve been married to the same
man for this long.” I was taken aback by the statement. In my mind what else would you do but be faithful to your vows. Of course this woman is on her second marriage and from all
reports pretty self-absorbed. There was a time when you entered into a “life
commitment” by vows and you did what they indicated: live them forever, unto death is there parting. Times have changed: prenuptials are “in” and convenience has replaced permanency. Have we become too fickle? Just
recently an event in Rome gave me hope: Father Angelo’s 80 years as a Trappist
monk of the Abbey of Tre Fontane. Imagine 80 years do anything! Imagine living your monastic profession in the place where Saint Paul was martyred! Saint Paul’s head bounced three times. Hence three fountains of water sprung up.

Tre fontane di S. Paolo.jpg

Father Angelo (Archangelo Buccitti in
history), just celebrated his 94th birthday on March 3. Bishop Paolo
Schiavon, a long-time friend of the community offered Mass for Father Angelo’s

Father Angelo’s monastic journey included entry at Frattochie abbey at 14 years of age, his journey to solemn profession, ordination to the
priesthood, time as chaplain for the Trappistine nuns at Vitorchiano, his election
as abbot of Tre Fontane and his ten years in that capacity. All of Father
Angelo’s life can be seen as a homage, a testament to grace and grace’s living through his deep humanity known through fraternal
charity, humility and faithfulness to God’s call. 

Father Angelo said: “The
Lord does not count the number of one’s years, but weighs their quality” and “A
man is never taller than when he is on his knees before his Lord.”

Saint Stephen Harding

St Stephen Harding.jpg

Today the Church –though localized to the Cistercian Order– celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saint Stephen Harding, one of the 3 founders of the Cistercian reform of Benedictine monastic life. Most of the faithful would not know of Saint Stephen unless they had contact with the Cistercians or remember their church history class.

Several things distinguish Saint Stephen Harding: he was English, he was the third abbot of Cîteaux, he was a man of great pragmatism, he was the author of the Charter of Charity (the foundational document of the Cistercian life), and was responsible for the liturgical formulations for this way of life, cleaning up the corruptions inserted into the Divine Office over the years.

On Saint Stephen’s deathbed he said, I assure you that I go to God in fear and trembling. If my baseness should be found to have ever done any good, even in this I fear, lest I should not have preserved that grace with the humility and care I ought.

For more on Saint Stephen Harding read this entry and this one.


Is there a desire for God still present today?

A few days ago I recommended seeing “Of Gods and Men.” Last week I saw the film and I have still been thinking of the movie, the monks, the hard work of inter-religious dialog. The testament of Dom Christian de Cherge can be read here. I highly recommend reading what Prior Christian said and what others think. A group of friends took time to see the movie together. Two friends brought a perspective of the film to my attention recently. The following is an an answer to those who ask whether a desire for God is still present in our times. Angelo Scola writes: 

I believe that the worldwide success of the film on the Tibhirine
monks [U.S. Title: “Of Gods and Men”] reflects a burning desire in the men and
women of any latitude to meet the face of God; it therefore reflects the real
need we all feel for authentic witnesses who may help us keep our gazes focused

Authentic witness is, in fact, not limited to “giving a good example”.
It shines in all its wholeness as a method for practically knowing reality and
communicating truth. It is a primary value, standing above any other form of
knowledge and communication – scientific, philosophical, theological, artistic,

Christian de Chergé.jpg

A luminous example of this method is offered by the very words which Fr
Christian de Chergé, prior of the Trappist monastery of Notre-Dame de l’Atlas
in Tibhirine, Algeria, wrote in his spiritual will [noted above], a good three years before
he was massacred with his monks:

“When the time comes, I would like to be able
to have an instant of lucidity that would allow me to ask for the pardon of God
and that of men, my brothers, while forgiving with all my heart those who may
have hit me… I cannot see how I could, in fact, rejoice in that this people I
love could be accused of my assassination. It 

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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